More than 100 members of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Oakhurst Community Center pavilion Aug. 15 for the organization's Member Appreciation Dinner.
Chamber President Greg Chappel said the organization has made an effort to limit the number of special events to concentrate on providing services to the membership of more than 300.
Chappel announced the chamber is forming a new merchants committee to promote shopping local to residents of the Mountain Area.
Chappel said nearly 65% of money spent locally is reinvested back into the community, something that does not happen when dollars are spent in Fresno.
Darin Soukup, chamber executive director, who received a standing ovation when introduced, told the membership the chamber is changing from an event organization to an advocacy organization.
Soukup noted the chamber is looking at the California Main Street, a program that helps revitalize downtowns through local grass roots efforts. The four Mountain Area chambers (Oakhurst, Coarsegold, Bass Lake and North Fork) are working together to bring the program to the region.
Doug Dearing, recently retired from Yosemite Bank and serving as the bank's community ambassador, spoke to the crowd about customer service, something he fine-tuned during his 44 year banking career, the last 22 as vice president/branch manager of Yosemite bank .
Dearing outlined some key factors to good customer service:
Relationships: Life and business is about inter-personal relationships.
What goes around, comes around: Treat your employees and your customers well, and they will treat you well.
Look your customer in the eye.
Be honest with the customer.
The customer is always right, even when they are wrong.
Contribute time and money to your community.
Dearing said he also learned a lot from his father including:
Listen: You can't learn anything when you are talking.
You can sit there and look like a fool, or you can open your mouth and confirm it.
24-hour rule: If it's something important, wait 24 hours to make a decision.
Also speaking was Erna Kubin-Clanin, owner-operator of the five-star, internationally acclaimed Erna's Elderberry House Restaurant and Chateau du Sureau.
Kubin-Clanin was introduced by chamber board member Dave Nemeth who said there are only 52 five-star restaurants in the country, and Oakhurst should be proud to have one of them.
"When foreign tourists visit Oakhurst, they ask about two things," Nemeth said. "Yosemite and Erna's Elderberry House."
Kubin-Clanin talked about opening her first restaurant 35 years ago in Wawona and building her now world-famous restaurant in Oakhurst in 1984.
She said the restaurant is currently offering a new lunch menu with meals ranging from $9 to $11, along with "local night," every Tuesday with a three-course meal offered for $44 per person.
Chappel reminded those in attendance that the chamber's largest fundraising event, the Oakhurst Fall Festival, chaired by Todd Miller of Miller & White, CPA will be held Oct. 12 and 13, and encouraged chamber members to volunteer to help with the event.
Another big chamber event is the German Fest in early March.
A tri-tip dinner, prepared by Dale Miller, president of the Oakhurst Community Center Board of Directors, Ernie Bender, and Gary Murray, was provided by the chamber at no cost to members and their guests.
Sponsors for the evening were Sullivan's Tire Pros, Linn Law Offices, Papike Construction, Foster & Parker Insurance, Yosemite Bank, Miller & White CPAs, and Ameriprise Financial. Mike Sullivan and Nemeth assisted in organizing the event.
A chamber open house will be held 5-7 p.m. at Hound's Tooth Inn and the Economic Development Luncheon is Aug. 28 at Sierra Meadows Country Club.
Details: (559) 683-7766, oakhurstchamber.com.